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Cobb Goes Crackpot

One thoughtful, skeptical self-described neocon has put domestic reconstruction ahead of nation building:

So I think today that I'm going to follow Taleb and cast a vote for Ron Paul, the nutcase crackpot. Why? Because only a nutcase crackpot like Paul (being very specific) has the nerve to base his entire campaign on a few salient facts and properly directed wishful thoughts.

In other words, I've recognized the value of killing obstacles blocking my view of the world, and for me, 99% of them are financial. Therefore what I need to do is make every effort to kill financial obstacles. That means voting for Ron Paul because only Ron Paul will create the conditions under which the proper disaster will occur in the short term. Obama and Romney on the other hand will sustain a stasis field which will behave like Wile E. Coyote walking on air over a deeper and deeper ravine.

Person in Chewbacca costume with Ron Paul sign and Gadsden FlagCollapse is inevitable. We might be able to use politics to shape it, or to delay it. But it will happen. The sooner losses are recognized in a Great Repricing, the smaller our aggregate suffering.

If Cobb can find a reason to vote for the wookie, the wookie might have a chance.



The TEA people are loosely organized. Just exactly what they want and which candidates merit their support is an ongoing debate.

Karl Denninger denigrates them because of polling which suggests the TEA people are in favor of maintaining a significant welfare state. Vox Popoli looks at different polls and mocks the TEA people for being in favor of pre-emptive war and nation building. From what I see, there is some overlap between all these factions. I maintain that they stand for exactly what their acronym represents: Taxed Enough Already.

It’s not a sophisticated movement, more an ad-hoc coalition of one shared sentiment. It is a strong and widely-held sentiment which has political weight. The TEA people have not formed a TEA Party with structure that can contend amidst existing major or minor political parties.


Beautiful Vices

Around Christmas time I received a small, thoughtful gift. It was the box set of the first season of the TV series “Mad Men”.


Winning Without Victory

The United States military won the war in Iraq. It looks like they have won the war in Afghanistan, too:

Finally, ABC’s Jake Tapper asked Carney when was “the last time US troops in Afghanistan killed anybody associated with Al Qaeda.” Carney didn’t have an answer, and referred Tapper to the Defense Department and NATO’s International Security Assistance Force.

I queried those agencies Tuesday and got an answer today. According to a Defense Department spokesman, the most recent operation that killed an Al Qaeda fighter was in April 2011—ten months ago.


I’m Cured!

I have been suffering from Obama Derangement Syndrome for about four years. My case I think was much milder than most. But the current President did inflame the evil in my nature.

Not anymore.

My opinion of the man, his politics and his disposition hasn’t changed. He’s a fascist and a demagogue and all the rest, for sure. If he is reelected he will deliver as much Progressive change as Congress will allow. And probably more, as he has proven that the law is merely an inconvenience that can be overcome by will and executive fiat.

I think those of us that were angry and fearful in 2008 were right to be so. We lost. In retrospect, I don’t think things would be much different under a President McCain. There would be some monstrous Federal healthcare bill, but one passed with a proper vote and GOP consent. The impossible strategy in Afghanistan would still leave the territory under disputed control, with no victory in sight.


Two Views of Depression

MaxedOutMama looks at the GDP data for the two most recent quarters:

We didn't fall into a recession - we fell into a depression. …

  • Real spending on food dropped 2.6 billion.
  • Clothing and footwear dropped 4.4 billion.
  • Gas & fuel dropped 3.5 billion.

This economy is not improving. This is structural on real incomes.

Although I prefer measures of physical quantities (tons, yards, barrels), dollar-based statistics are not subject to much shenanigans over a recent short term.

Tam looked at the landscape a week ago and saw the same thing:


The Fabric of Church and State

The reading material for Week 2 of Constitution 101 includes the Virginia Declaration of Rights:

a document drafted in 1776 to proclaim the inherent rights of men, including the right to rebel against "inadequate" government. It influenced a number of later documents, including the United States Declaration of Independence (1776), the United States Bill of Rights (1789)

I have read this document before, but the course is delivering on its promise of giving familiar material its proper philosohical underpinnings.

Like the Bill of Rights, the less specific but more essential points are listed at the end. Here are the last two rights declared by Virginia:

XV That no free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.


Americans are the Choosing People

Conveniently coincident with, but not necessarily a part of my personal Lent, I am taking Constitution 101: The Meaning and History of the Constitution:

a 10-week online course presented by Hillsdale College.

Featuring an expanded format from the “Introduction to the Constitution” lecture series with Hillsdale College President Dr. Larry Arnn, Constitution 101 follows closely the one-semester course required of all Hillsdale College undergraduate students.

I have just completed the material for Week 1. It is magnificent. After a 2-hour lecture (in four segments) and some reading, Dr. Arnn took some questions about the ideas he presented.

One of the questions was particularly meaningful in context of my annual quasi-religious experiment. Another student asked (paraphrasing): If Jefferson and the Founders looked to so many sources for roots, and if our Founding documents are based those ancient ideas, why didn’t the Greeks or the Romans create a free society themselves?

Dr. Arnn said:


The Unicorn with Ten Thousand Horns

Rush Limbaugh is still fighting the Cold War:

The Associated Press is reporting that Obama could cut our nuclear weapons arsenal by 80%. That is just staggering. This would amount to unilateral disarmament. Three hundred nuclear weapons would take us back to levels not seen since 1950. If we cut our nuclear weapons down to 300, Russia will have five times, 1,550 nuclear warheads. If we reduce to 300, we will have fewer nuclear warheads than the ChiComs. The only thing you could say in response to this, "Well, Rush, we don't have anything to fear from the Russians or the Chinese or anybody in the Middle East." No, of course we don't. The last time we had 300 warheads was in the fifties and that's when we were making them as fast as our technology and materials would permit us to make 'em. We weren't stopping at 300.

300 warheads is not disarmament. It is 300 warheads. Nowhere in his rant did Limbaugh consider how many are necessary, or even sustainable:

During the Cold War, the United States, in an effort to achieve and maintain an advantage in the nuclear arms race, invested large amounts of money and technical resources into nuclear weapons design, testing, and maintenance. Many of the weapons designed required high upkeep costs, justified primarily by their Cold War context and the specific and technically sophisticated applications they were created for.

Limbaugh must think the Defense Department has its own herd of unicorns that can fart fissile material:


A Tactical Vote for Obama

Borepatch saves me the trouble explaining why I will vote for the current President if the Republicans foist Mitt Romney on me:

Here's the problem: it's not Obama, it's Obama's world view. He's just particularly ruthless in pushing it aggressively. Obama isn't alone: he has the entire Intelligentsia on his side, the MSM, the European Elites, the international Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). They're all in the same tribe, which believes that things should be run by them, with a strong, interventionist government in charge (run by them, 'natch), and with the peons givering deference where it's due (to them, 'natch).

Romney's in that tribe. So's Newt, and probably Santorum. And 60% of the Republican Party. Only Ron Paul explicitly rejects that world view.


Unicorns in Green Eyeshades

The Social Secuity Trust Funds are one of many topics where political factions talk past one another. Some say that there is no money in the funds, that the FedGov has spent them on other things. The response insists that the Trust Funds are invested in Federal securities, as required by law. It would be silly, says the responding faction, to leave piles of cash under a mattress in Washington, earning no interest. And to invest the Trust Funds in the private markets would represent a higher risk and create incentives for Wall Street to rip off the public, since the FedGov still has to redeem the investment even if the its market value goes down.

Turns out the Social Security Administration has a pretty good FAQ on the Trust Funds:


Catholic R3VOLution

The Obama/UnicornCare contraception mandate offers a new lens through which we can view the GOP primary race. From 2007’s Open Letter to Catholics on Behalf of Ron Paul:

Although I would have supported Ron Paul back before I converted to Catholicism, I think Catholics will like what they see when they examine his record. Over at Defend Life, Ron Paul comes out decisively on top in a study of the candidates’ positions on the issues according to the guidelines recently established by the United States bishops. (If anything, I think this study understates Paul’s compatibility with Catholic teaching.)


The Model Candidate

Bruce at Maggie’s Farm is trying to demean and browbeat righties into supporting Romney:

Moreso than his opponents, Romney is what Republicans need to win, and what America needs to unseat Obama. I’ll vote for whoever gets the Republican nomination. But, I’m not happy at being part of many of my compatriots playing out a self-destructive temper tantrum that could lose the election.

It’s pretty common these days to accuse anyone not on Mitt’s bandwagon of being immature. Romney has the right shape and the right markings to appeal to conservatives, but he does not appeal to most of them. I don’t think it is because the righties are being childish.


All or Nothing in Washington and Rome

The Federal Government’s new rules requiring health insurers to offer contraception is sparking a lot of chatter. A lot of people seem to think that the popularity of contraception among Catholics is a fair justification for the mandate. Our fetishization of democracy has led folks to think that G-d’s law is subject to a vote.

Official and ancient Catholic doctrine opposes contraception. It has been argued and reasoned for centuries among the faithful. The doctrine is not subject to whim. The reported majority of Catholics who disagree with the Church would be well-advised to reconsider whether they are actually Catholic. The catechism is not a la carte.

The Obama Administration has opened new debate not only only the separation of church and state, but on the Church itself. And the Church has some conflicts:


Newt Romney Passes on Minnesota

It’s caucus day in Minnesota. Not a big deal to the frontrunners:

Romney, for his part, made just one visit to Minnesota and canceled a visit on Monday.

He said in an interview on the Scott Hennen Show that  Minnesota's contest wasn't his focus.

"We have not participated in the straws polls and beauty contests as much as some of the other guys have, but we’re working very hard to get support and put those delegates together," Romney said.

Gingrich has the newest and least organized presence in Minnesota. He made a last minute stop in the state on Monday, telling several hundred supporters that he would bring "real change on a large scale" to the country.

Who would have thought Rick Santorum and Ron Paul were in a “beauty contest”. The field has already conceded “Most Handsome” to Mitt and his executive hair.

And maybe Gingrich is still mad about Michele Bachmann’s “Newt Romney” barb. Or maybe he’s just not as competent as he thinks he is.

The northern tier of flyover country might just vote for real change anyway, against the Bi-factional Bankster Party:

If Paul manages to capture a first place win in Minnesota, it will be his first state win. Even though the Tuesday night vote is non-binding, that could give national observers pause as he continues on.

Santorum is ahead in the local polls going in. It’s anybody’s game.


Ivy League Economic Thinking

Jonathan at Chicago Boyz writes:

Part of what’s happening is that the economy is recovering, to some degree because the Fed is signaling that it’s going to keep suppressing short rates and buying up long-term govt debt for the foreseeable future. This is an insane policy that funnels money to Obama’s Wall Street cronies while killing low-risk investment opportunities for middle-class retirees. It seems likely to lead eventually to significant inflation. Romney, as the likely Republican nominee, should be hammering the Fed for ineptitude and corruption, for running an unsustainable monetary policy and trying to goose the markets into the election. He should be hammering Obama for trying to reinflate the credit markets to buy votes. (The residential real estate market seems to be picking up, perhaps to some degree in response to Obama’s mortgage-subsidy vote-buying scheme. But it may also be that people see inflation coming and want to exchange cash, especially borrowed cash, for real assets.)

Obama has been very bad for the country. His high tax, high regulation, high cronyism, high uncertainty policies suppress productive investment and throw vast amounts of private capital down politically favored sinkholes. Conservative and moderate/uncommitted voters alike yearn for a Republican candidate who forthrightly defends free enterprise and the opportunity society against Obama’s decadent, stratified socialist ineptocracy. Romney, the great businessman, the man who has been running for president for six or seven years, is tongue tied.

I disagree with Jonathan and the popular view of Romney’s business career. The short version is that Romney evolved into a a vulture capitalist, using debt to buy earnings and cashing out before the debt wiped out the earnings of the companies Bain Capital targeted.


Our Masters are not Public Servants

A few days ago, I attempted to explain a Rush Limbaugh position to neo-neocon. I was mostly successful. Neo’s general question was about Republican elites and how Limbaugh views some of the possibilities in this fall’s election.

Neo’s post began:

Lately I’ve been puzzling over a meme that’s permeated the blogosphere in connection with the rise of Newt Gingrich. You know, the one that’s all about the Republican party elites or establishment types, the puppet masters who are controlling the whole campaign (and campaigns in previous years, giving us Dole and McCain) for their own nefarious purposes, which have nothing to do with conservative ideals but are the absolute antithesis of them. And fake conservative Romney is supposedly their new front man.

I would have thought that Rush Limbaugh was one of these influential Republican elites, but I noticed in a couple of comments around the blogosphere that people were quoting him on the bad faith scheming of the Republican establishment, the ones who wanted Romney and didn’t want Newt.

I commented:

The GOP overlords hold that Newt Romney will lose to Obama.

Newt will polarize down-ballot, possibly even inspiring more loons like Angle and O’Donnell to win their races. The GOP elite loses control of the Senate, either outright or by the election of TEA people wearing the GOP jersey. The establishment depends on compliance.

Post Style: 

Greed Isn’t Good Enough

Mitt Romney has been unable to articulate a detailed explanation of his two terms at the helm of Bain Capital. His campaign rhetoric has not dealt with the charges against Bain’s debt-fueled “vulture capitalism”. Instead he has attempted to adopt the mantle of business and capitalism itself. He repeats that profit is a good thing, and that he will not apologize for his success.

That stuff works in a stump speech. Profit is, indeed, a good thing. Romney alludes to Adam Smith’s words:

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.


Dogs in a Horse Race

Right now, they all support positions I don’t hold.

Quoted from: Ron Paul, in an interview with CNN after South Carolina’s 2012 primary.

Post Style: 

Vigil for the Intertracks

Since the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) has stalled in the face of a popular uprising, I am stealing* this description:

The soft leftists are realizing the hard leftists meant what they said.

(*If I remembered where I read it, I would happily give credit.)

When we give government some power, we must expect it will use that power:

As for all of the people out there on the internet having a massive freak out about the government potentially damaging something they love… WELCOME TO THE PARTY.



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